June 07, 2011

Manchin, Rockefeller, Rahall Announce $25K to Fight Drug Abuse in Communities Across West Virginia

Groups based in Philippi, Welch, Gilbert, Hillsboro and Grafton will receive training, technical assistance and funding to combat substance abuse

Federal funds awarded through the Appalachian Regional Commission 

Washington, D.C. —U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller and U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (all D-W.Va.) today announced that five local groups committed to fighting drug abuse in West Virginia have been selected as winners of the 2011 Competition for Community-Based Substance Abuse Initiatives, which is an effort of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to combat local substance abuse problems. The winners include the Barbour County Commission Partnership, based in Philippi; the STOP Coalition, based in Gilbert; the Health Opportunities for Positive Education (HOPE) Coalition, based in Welch; the Pocahontas County Drug Abuse Preventive Advisory Group, based in Hillsboro; and the Taylor County Family Resource Network, based in Grafton.

Each group will receive training, technical assistance, and a $5,000 grant for expanded local efforts to educate and reduce substance abuse in their respective communities. Representatives from these groups will attend a training conference, and then design and complete local projects that will expand their coalition partnerships. In the process, each group will develop new ways to combat substance abuse problems, while building capacity to sustain their efforts into the future. 

“Drug addiction hurts more than just the person abusing drugs; it hurts communities’ abilities to create and keep good jobs, it destroys lives and tears families apart," Senator Manchin said. “To fight our state's drug abuse epidemic, we need projects like these, which take a positive step toward combatting this escalating problem in our state and across our country. The drug problem’s toll on jobs, families and communities must stop.”

As part of his ongoing effort to fight drug abuse in West Virginia, Senator Manchin has urged the U.S. Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Agency to immediately shut down an anonymous online black market for drugs, including prescription drugs, cocaine, LSD and heroine. The illicit network, called Silk Road, allows users anywhere in the country to purchase illicit drugs using untraceable currency and have them shipped to their homes via the U.S. Postal Service. 

In April, Senator Manchin announced a commonsense, three-point plan to fight drug abuse nationwide. West Virginia has one of the nation’s highest rates of drug overdose deaths, and Senator Manchin pledged his support for legislation that would put a federal ban on deadly synthetic drugs being marketed as “bath salts” and “plant food,” and add them to the list of controlled substances. Senator Manchin has also announced plans to introduce new legislation in the Senate to crack down on so-called “pill mills,” where people can go to get powerful prescription drugs that they do not use for medical reasons.

“In West Virginia, too many people struggle with substance abuse, particularly addiction to prescription drugs,” said Rockefeller.  “This program will help those in trouble and their families, friends, and communities.  Substance abuse is a growing and devastating problem that we must tackle now.  I will continue to make fighting drug abuse a top priority – and make sure that prevention and treatment are included in any strategy to do so.”

On March 8, Senator Rockefeller, who is Chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, introduced the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011.  The bill aims to prevent the unsafe use of prescription drugs and reduce the number of deaths from prescription drugs by promoting both physician and patient education and creating a uniform reporting system for painkiller-related deaths.  It would also significantly increase federal funding to help states create and maintain prescription drug monitoring programs that all states can access.  

“The plague of prescription drug abuse hits smaller communities harder in many ways,” said Rahall. "By expanding partnerships in training, planning, and coordinating and by marshalling our resources we can extend our collective reach in attacking the prescription pill epidemic.”

Last month, Rahall hosted a prescription drug abuse summit in Wyoming County to coordinate federal, state and local efforts to fight the widespread problem. Additionally, Rahall introduced H.R. 1925, the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011, the House companion measure to the Senate bill authored by Rockefeller, promoting the legislation as one prong of the four-part strategy he is pursuing on prescription drug abuse – a strategy that tracks the recommendations of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and many experts – focusing on education and training, tracking and monitoring, proper medical disposal, and enforcement.